Among all the different genres that exist in South Korea, reggae and dub could be the smallest. There is only a small set of artists and bands that continue to play the style. From the outside, there’s one vocalist who leads this genre and that’s Sugar Sunkyul. His work in Kingston Rudieska pushed first-wave Jamacian-influenced ska forward. Komagens goes further into the genre influence with their first album in their five-year existence.
For someone not versed in reggae, dub, and ska elements, Come Again can sound like the stereotypical soundscape that’s generally known through pop culture. But Komagens is looking towards building a style that is based on reggae and dub while adding new elements like the violin. It adds a new melodic line throughout the different rhythms and melodies.
Komagen’s nine songs explore the reggae and dub soundscape. “Restless” is the typical music expectation with a slower tempo surrounded by layered instrumentals and rhythms. “Bittersweet” is a mix of dub and funk with Wusic‘s feature. “Mukbang” increases the tempo and leans on percussion to keep things moving.
I’m sure that a lot of people might think “how can Koreans play reggae or dub?” but keep in mind that these musicians are experienced across multiple genres and it’s their love of reggae that fuels the music. And once you get into the album, everything sounds perfectly natural. Komagens are absorbing the genre and composing music from that influence.
This is an album that I keep coming back to. It sticks in my mind because the unique interpretation and presentation is fresh. Komagens are highlighting a genre and continue to build a discography for this style. It’s possible that most South Koreans don’t even know there’s a band playing this style of music.
Komagen’s have been around for five years and this is the first full length. But the members themselves aren’t new to music and that shows plainly. Come Again isn’t an album that you were actively looking for, but it’ll become a new favorite.